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Paper Topic:

Richard Wilbur`s `Year`s End`

In the first stanza , Wilbur makes winter and snow signifiers of the ending of the year . An interesting aspect of the stanza is that the turnover of the year is pessimistically viewed as a dying ' of the current year instead of a more optimistic birthing ' of a new year implying that there is something to mourn . The feeling of life trapped ' by the winter is portrayed , comparing the rooms of houses with the waters alive underneath the surface ice of lakes . However there is also optimism in that it is implied that the

trapped ' life is very much alive and will inevitably emerge from their icy traps as alive as ever

The title of the poem is Year 's End ' but the poem itself is not simply about the end of the year - Wilbur relates the year 's end to the inevitable end of things - to death , and to change . Wilbur offers a slight irony in the second stanza : the frozen , fallen leaves seemed their own most perfect monument ' implying that the leaves have acquired a new kind of worth by having fallen and frozen

In the third stanza Wilbur offers another irony . The perfection in the death of ferns (here Wilbur may be referring to prehistoric gigantic ferns , similar to the case of the fallen leaves , implies that there is something perfect about extinction . Similarly the mammoths and the ancient city of Pompeii , subject to inevitable death , are rendered in an exalted light

In the fourth stanza , there is a little dog ' that sleeps deeper as the ashes rose (as the fire died down , suggesting that it complacently accepts the death of things around it . Wilbur suggests here that men are hopeful , not mindful of death but simply eager for life expecting the life-giving energy of another sun ' to give them another chance to do the things they had hoped to do but have not done

In the last stanza , Wilbur explicitly tells us , that we must pause and consider the progress of time that inevitably delivers death . Wilbur tells us that we (humans ) merely complacently accept the advance of time without too much thought . In this last stanza Wilbur finally admits the coming of the new year into the picture , although the New-year bells are portrayed as wrangling with the snow ' perhaps signifying the conflict (and the uselessness of the conflict ) between the old and the new...

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